For the 10-12 Washington Wizards, a Monday night road trip to the Grindhouse didn't seem that intimidating for the first time in a few seasons.
The Memphis Grizzlies have struggled lately, losing four of their last six games - three of which were blowouts by margins of at least 20 points. With the Wizards riding momentum from a big win in Dallas, this not only seemed like a winnable game, but one that the Wizards should have been able to win comfortably.
Instead, the team failed to show up.
Well, the Wizards were there, but they might as well not have been.
Despite some declaring the Grizzlies as a dead team walking, they buckled down and stomped out the Wizards tonight 112-95.
The Grizzlies shot 66.7 percent from behind the arc. Matt Barnes hit four three-pointers, Courtney Lee flushed three of them.
So much for Grit and Grind.
The Grizzlies played well Monday night. Their pick and rolls were efficient, the spacing was solid and they scored in bunches down low - outscoring Washington 46-36 in the paint.
The Wizards had little interest in stopping the Grizzlies.
Example: No one helps Jared Dudley, no one contests Z-Bo's shot at the basket.
Comeback too little, too late
The Wizards were down 22 points entering the fourth quarter, and attempted to mount a bit of a comeback - cutting the lead to 11 points at one time, but could not take the lead from Memphis.
From there, with the Wizards trailing 92-81, the Grizzlies used a 20-14 run to close out the game.
Randy Wittman kept most of the starters on the bench for the fourth quarter.
Role players score big, starters struggle
Despite poor stat lines from starters John Wall, Otto Porter and others, the bench played pretty well for the Wizards tonight.
Off the bench, Gary Neal led the Wizards in scoring with 24 points, including a trio of three-pointers. Ramon Sessions added 14 points and three assists.
In total, the Wizards' bench accounted for 57 of the team's points. If the majority of the starters had not played as poorly as they did, perhaps this is a win for the Wizards.
Meanwhile, Porter shot just one-of-eight from the field, scoring just two points. Porter's streak of 10+ points in six straight games ended tonight. He had done a good job of stepping up in Bradley Beal's absence, but like many other Wizards, this was a tough game for the forward. He mustered up four assists and three rebounds as well, but finished with a plus/minus score of -16.
Only one Wizard, Kris Humphries, finished with a positive plus/minus.
Wall struggled tonight as well, going two-of-11 from the floor for six points. He came up with some key passes - as per usual - to tally nine assists, but also turned the ball over four times.
Before this game, the Wizards had won three of their last four road games and it doesn't get easier. They'll wrap this road trip up with a game at San Antonio, then return home to face a Charlotte Hornets team who is playing some good basketball.
Anyways, here's one Wizards' highlight: